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JJohannesburg – like many cities worldwide – is transforming its inner city. A visionary project is Main Street Life. Once a drab industrial building, it’s now an edgy and vibrant space to live, work and eat. Check out the creative offices, shops, restaurants and cinemas, along with a daringly different boutique hotel.
Main Street Life – the new name given to a once largely forgotten and seedy part of Johannesburg – has now, like the proverbial phoenix, risen from the ashes of an industrial past and become one of the city’s trendiest, edgiest and coolest places to live, work and play.
Main Street Life is part of the ongoing Maboneng Precinct project, which kicked off with the hugely successful Arts on Main, a development that took over some old inner-city offices and warehouses and renewed, recycled, refurbished and rebuilt where necessary.
Today Arts on Main is an eclectic mix of art galleries, eateries, artists’ studios and retail spaces.
Following the success of Arts on Main, it was time for visionary property developer Jonathan Liebmann, who created Arts on Main with architect Enrico Daffonchio, to move on to the next stage of the Maboneng Precinct – Main Street Life.
Another old, run-down industrial building was acquired and transformed into a modern, funky but functional complex that houses everything from small apartments to penthouses, shops, restaurants, creative workspaces and even a roof-top venue with a stunning 360-degree view over the city. Cinderella is transformed almost overnight into a classy inner-city princess.
Her crown – and the high point of Main Street Life metaphorically and literally – is the 12 Decades Johannesburg Arts Hotel.
This self-catering boutique hotel embodies a unique concept: Leibmann asked some of South Africa’s best-known designers and artists to take the 12 rooms of the hotel and transform them to represent Johannesburg’s past 12 decades.
Choose ‘This is the House that Jack Built’, themed around mining, or ‘Ponte Obscura’, where the room becomes a camera obscura filled with inverted views of Berea, Hillbrow and the iconic Ponte Tower.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Main Street Life Stayz
12 Decades Johannesburg Art Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)10 410 5460
How to get here
Main Street Life is found on the corner of Main, Maritzburg and Fox streets in downtown Johannesburg. There is plenty of parking available and the area is well-served by both taxis, buses and Ubers.
Best time to visit
Any time is good to stay, but, if you’re just popping in, you'll get great sunset views from the rooftop. Check out Living Room for the best sundowners with a view.
How much will it cost?
Accommodation costs at both Main Street Life Stayz and 12 Decades varies, so check their websites for rates and availability.
Things to do
Right next door is Arts on Main, a collection of artists’ workshops, galleries, Bailey’s African History Archives and the Canteen restaurant.
Where to stay
The 12 Decades Boutique Hotel, part of the Main Street Life development.
What to eat
Canteen at Arts on Main is always a good bet, and on Sundays there’s the organic Market on Main food market. Once in the area you’re surrounded by small eateries offering everything from Mexican to traditional African food.